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I Forge Iron

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I’ve been looking all over to try and find info on what would be considered “too hot” when heating your work. How do you know if you’ve heated your work to hot? I’ve tried to do some searches but they didn’t really come back with anything.

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"Too Hot" is dependent on ALLOY and what you are trying to do with it.  For real mild steel (not A-36) Yellow is a good temp to do ornamental work at. For welding real wrought iron "snow ball" can work well. For forging H-13 an orange may work----if it starts cottage cheesing it's too hot.   Some alloys are hot short others are cold short.

Another aspect is how you like to work; if you are fast a higher heat may work for you, if you are slow high heats have more time to go sideways on you.  Sort of like how much garlic should you put in something you are cooking: depends on the dish and on your preferences!

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Good Morning,

The wonderful world of perspective. No two people see the same colour, No two people see the same thing in an object. If you are looking at a picture of something, some people focus more on what is in the Background than what the picture main character is.

Enjoy the learning of colours. Take a piece of scrap, heat it in the forge until you see sparkles on one end. Sparkles is burning, you can see all the other shades of the above colour chart in the one piece. Don't throw that piece away, you can use it again for the same function.

Above, Thomas said there are variables. It is true, Steel is like Vegetable soup. The soup your Mom made is never the same as what your neighbour made. Most of the Steel manufactures have agreed on what kind of Soup they are making.


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Historically having sulfur in the iron made it hot short and was a big problem when they started using coal/coke for smelting iron. In modern times they figured out that Manganese would scavenge the sulfur and help with the issue---why even "straight, clean alloys" (like the 10XX series always tend to have Mn in them. (And why swedish "charcoal iron" was considered so superior for several hundred years after everyone else was smelting with coke.)

Likewise having phosphorus in iron made it cold short, Roasting the ore could help reduce the P in the ore; but avoiding ore sources that contained much of it was the preferred method. (Bog ores often contained P).  HOWEVER, P is also a hardneing element; in Pleiner's "The Celtic Sword" there were examples where they were trying to use higher P alloys for the edges of swords.

If you read specs you will notice that S and P are listed in the specs as a "Maximum Allowed" and on a report often as "Below XYZ"

As various countries had ores with various elements in them a smith of several hundred years ago would know what countries metal was good for what purposes and TEST a new buy of wrought iron to be sure they were getting what they were paying for;  Moxon's Mechanicks Exercises, published 1703 talks a bit about this.

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